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Celanese Q4 Profit Climbs; Adj. EPS Misses View - Update

Celanese Corp. (CE), a technology and specialty materials company, on Tuesday reported a surge in profit for the fourth quarter, amid sharply narrowed loss from discontinued operations and a 7 percent growth in revenues. Adjusted earnings missed Wall Street view.

Net earnings available to common stockholders increased to $95 million or $0.60 per share from $58 million or $0.36 per share in the prior year.

Earnings per share from continuing operations dropped to $0.61 from $0.65 in the prior year period. The company recorded a loss of from discontinued operations of $1 million, compared to such a loss of $72 milion last year.

Results in both periods included charges and adjustments related to employee termination benefits and Ticona Kelsterbach plant relocation, among others.

Adjusted earnings fell to $0.58 per share from $0.73 per share a year ago. On average, 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated earnings of $0.62 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

According to the company, results reflected weakened economic conditions, particularly in Europe, which resulted in lower than expected customer demand.

This in turn led to inventory destocking in the company's Acetyl Intermediates segment, as well as a modest impact to volumes in its Advanced Engineered Materials segment.

Net sales grew 7 percent to $1.61 billion from $1.51 billion, primarily due to higher pricing across all operating segments. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated revenues of $1.56 billion.

Acetyl Intermediates segment generated $849 million in the quarter, up from last year's $799 million, reflecting higher year-over-year pricing primarily in downstream derivatives due to raw material recovery.

In Advanced Engineered Materials, net sales improved to $292 million from $274 million, driven by higher pricing and revenue associated with the product lines acquired in 2010.

For the full year, net earnings available to common stockholders climbed to $607 million or $3.82 per share from $374 million or $2.38 per share in the prior year. Adjusted earnings per share grew to $4.47 from $3.37. Net sales increased 14 percent to $6.763 billion. Wall Street estimated earnings of $4.54 per share on revenues of $6.70 billion.

Looking ahead, Celanese said it "expects 2012 adjusted earnings per share to be above consensus estimates that averaged $4.70." Wall Street looks for earnings of $4.78 per share for fiscal 2012.

The company said it continues to remain on track to meet its 2013 earnings growth objectives of at least $6 in adjusted earnings per share.

CE closed on Monday at $49.31, down from the previous close of $49.56, on 2.43 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

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